Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looking Forward to September 18, 2011 -- Proper 20A 14th After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Jonah 3:10-4:11
  • Matthew 20:1-16

The Sermon title is Labour Relations, Kingdom Style

Early Thoughts: Do we really get what we deserve? Do we really deserve what we get? Not just in the world as we know it but in God's economy.

I am pretty sure the answer to both questions is no (at least in God's economy).  And that is a good thing.  It is what we call grace.

BUt there is more to this parable than giving thanks for what God has given (without worrying if we deserve it or not).  If, as I believe, the Kingdom of God/Heaven is here and now among us (as well as coming to fulfillment) and this parable (as do many of Jesus' parables) starts with the phrase "the kingdom of heaven is like" than what does the parable suggest about how we should interact??

In Jesus time, as in our own, a day labourer needed a full day's paid work to have enough money to eat for that day.  Someone who is not picked up until mid afternoon would not expect to make enough that day.  But in the economics and labour relatoins of the kingdom they all get a full day's pay.  When the kingdom comes to fulfillment all will get what they need to survive.  When we live in the kingdom way all are given enough.

But, many of us would say, it isn't fair!  Jonah says the same.  The Ninnevites were horrid people.  They (in the minds of many Jewish folk) deserved to be destroyed.  But there is a wideness in God's mercy and grace.  A wideness that eliminates questions of "deserving".  It isn't fair Jonah says.  It isn't fair that they get saved and the bush which gave me comfort gets destroyed.  It isn't fair the workers hired at dawn say, we worked longer and harder!  It isn't fair! IT isn't fair!

2 questions come to mind.  What does "fair" mean?  And whoever promised life was going to be fair?

Still, I can hear the union grievance being filed at the vineyard office.  Maybe we'll talk about that some more on Sunday.

And maybe we'll see what words of wisdom the children have about fairness.

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